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Meanwhile, There's a Spinoff Gang

O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAIL

January 25, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST | Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at leslie.earnest@latimes.com

While Arnette is surfing and snowboarding, some of the people who helped him build his business are now busy with a new sunglass company, Corporation Eyeball in San Clemente.

"We put the band back together," said Craig Lark, a founder of the fledgling company, which will make sunglasses under the Von Zipper brand. "We had so much fun together, when it was just us doing it out of a small San Clemente office, that we're gonna do it again."

The company will target "the guys who surf, skate and snowboard and know what's right," Lark said.

"We felt there was a real opportunity to jump back into the market," he said. "We felt there hadn't been anything new or fresh or exciting in a long time."

Von Zipper samples will be ready in March and in stores in April, he said. They're expected to retail for $45 to $90.

Seed money for the new venture came from Lark, other employees and an unnamed investor. Lark declined to give specific figures.

"We have normal, conventional bank financing, so we're set," he said. "We're financed to where we can take it as far as we want it to go."

Others who were with Arnette and are now launching Von Zipper include Greg Tomlinson, Chris Burke, Mike Parsons and brothers Rob and Jeff Riese.

The former Arnette employees left that company after it was purchased by Bausch & Lomb and before Luxottica entered the picture, Lark said. "The culture had changed," he said.

Retailers had expected that Arnette defectors would pull together, forming one or more new sunglass companies.

"That was one big, happy family," said Duke Edukas, co-owner of Surfside Sports in Newport Beach. "They're not going to sit out there and do nothing."

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